A thrilling fight for spoils between the only two riders to have won solo TT races this week, Hickman and Dunlop’s battle looked destined to go down in the TT annals as one of the most closely-matched on record as they swapped the lead on numerous occasions without ever letting the margin between them swell to anything more than a second.

Indeed, there was nothing to choose between the two in-form riders on identical Paton SR-1 machinery, Hickman and Dunlop changing position five times as they began the last of three laps around the Mountain Course.

Dunlop had led at the end of lap one, but while Hickman had nosed ahead coming into the final revolution, the margin between the pair was still no more than 0.5secs.

However, their neck-and-neck duel was brought to a premature conclusion on the run to Ballaugh as Dunlop hit issues on his Paton, releasing Hickman to ease off to the flag for his third win of the TT thus far and eighth of his career. 

He remains on course to match Ian Hutchinson’s record of five TT wins in a single event, though Dunlop is favourite for a second Supersport win of the week in this evening’s race.

Dunlop’s misfortune spelled some welcome good luck for Lee Johnston, who - having been forced to retire from the Superbike and Superstock races - landed his sixth career TT podium with a fine, if distant, run to second place on his Ashcourt Aprilia RS 660, almost two minutes off Hickman.

With another rostrum contender in Jamie Coward being forced out on lap two, Paul Jordan celebrated his first-ever TT podium by coming out top of a fierce fight for third over Pierre-Yves Bian, the Frenchman coming in seven seconds behind.

With James Hind’s positive start waning as he slipped from fourth to seventh, the experienced Michael Rutter took advantage to complete the top five, ahead of Rob Hodson in sixth.